Test For Echo
by Rush

Album: Test For Echo (1996)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Neil Peart wrote the words with Pye DuBois. It's about waiting, watching and listening for a reply.
  • Peart: "I was up in Yellowknife last June on a motorcycle trip across the country, and there's one of those Inukashuk above the town overlooking it, and I was quite taken with it. I bought a postcard almost exactly the image you see on the cover... I just came back with this postcard and I thought of "test for echo." I thought that's exactly what these men mean when you're out in the wilderness... when you've been hiking for a few days and you come across one of these things, it's such an affirmation that there's life out there. Again the same thing: it's an echo... and that's the feeling a traveler in the Arctic would get, that it was a sign of life. The same with the satellite dishes. I was kind of referring to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the test for echo going out that way." - from "Jam! Showbiz" October 16, 1996. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for above 2

Comments: 10

  • Brian from San DiegoI felt like the lyrics were thought-provoking, as usual, but the music was not something I was able to get lost in. Anyway this song was obviously a "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" comment on reality TV. Maybe we have been desensitized to it, I guess you can get used to anything.
  • Richard from Hopkinton, Ma@Mike, alliteration is "the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words". The classic example is "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

    An great example does indeed occur in Test for Echo: "Camera curves over caved-in cop cars".
  • David from Deer Park, Txthese lyrics are about western cultures obsession with violence and how the media has us desensitized to it. another great song with similar lyrical meaning is vicarious by tool
  • Avlight from Anytown, NcIt's about Neil's opinion of how crime, criminals, and their trials are overglorified on the television news.

    It was deeply influenced by the OJ Simpson trial
  • Theartofbalance from Mary Esther, FlDon't I feel stupid. I thought it was about crime because the only distinquishable lyric I could hear was "miles of yellow tape...chalk line." Besides the obvious other stuff that isnt in the verses.
  • Mike from Sarasota, FlAn interesting thing I noticed about this song is the use of alliteration (I think that's the correct term) in the opening vocals. When Geddy sings

    "Here we go --- vertigo
    Video vertigo
    Test for echo

    Here we go --- in slo-mo
    Video vertigo
    Test for echo"

    Each word or block of words is three syllables, with the accent on the first. The way it rolls out it almost has an echoing effect. A clever touch, considering the title of the song


  • Ray from Roseville, MiThis song is also about crime tv shows.
  • Wil from Milwaukee, WiThis is one of my favorite Rush tunes!! It only took 6 years to get a chance to hear another original Rush song!! I thank God that Neil had the internal strength to carry on and give back to us the view of the talent God gave him!!
  • Ben from Nyc, MsGreat Book.
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonNeil also saw small representations of these "Inukashuk"s along the road on his trip in Ghost Rider - Travels on the healing road.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jethro Tull

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Famous Singers' First Films

Famous Singers' First FilmsSong Writing

A look at the good (Diana Ross, Eminem), the bad (Madonna, Bob Dylan) and the peculiar (David Bowie, Michael Jackson) film debuts of superstar singers.

Charles Fox

Charles FoxSongwriter Interviews

After studying in Paris with a famous composition teacher, Charles became the most successful writer of TV theme songs.

90s Metal

90s MetalFact or Fiction

Test your metal - Priest, Maiden, and Beavis and Butt-head show up in this one.

James Bond Theme Songs

James Bond Theme SongsMusic Quiz

How well do you know the 007 theme songs?